CONCORD, N.C. – Heading into his second weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Hendrick Motorsports this season, Alex Bowman has a bit more confidence than he did in July.
The No. 88 fill-in driver claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-10 finish this past weekend at Chicagoland Speedway after leading six laps toward the end of the race.
“Getting our first top-10 this weekend – it wasn’t our best weekend – it was kind of an up-and-down day so to have a strong finish was definitely good,” Bowman said.
The solid finish came after Bowman’s first two races with the organization, where his finishes didn’t match his running position due to several incidents.
On his first visit to New Hampshire in July, Bowman was racing inside the top 10 when a tire issue sent his Chevy into the wall, resulting in a 26th-place finish.
While running inside the top five at Michigan in August, the No. 88 Chevy experienced engine issues, causing Bowman to fall off the lead lap. He took home a 30th-place finish.
“Obviously, Michigan and Loudon, we didn’t get the finish we deserved but to run top five and top 10 meant a lot,” the driver said.
The 23-year-old driver admits that Loudon is not one of his best tracks but that last week’s finish gives him higher hopes as he heads north this weekend.
“It was a big confidence booster and kind of took a lot of pressure off going into the next seven races just as far as knowing we can run up front,” Bowman explained. “Going back, I’m probably more confident than I’ve ever been going to Loudon just because I tend to struggle there.”
With a solid team in his corner, the young driver feels confident in the remaining races this season.
“I feel like there’s some really good tracks for me coming up,” Bowman said. “I’ve won two races at Kansas in different series so I’m really looking forward to that. Obviously, the No. 88 team always brings really strong stuff to Talladega as well so there are a couple places that I’m definitely looking forward to.”
And for Bowman, there’s no shortage of mentors surrounding him, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“He’s been really helpful,” Bowman said of Earnhardt. “It’s kind of funny because sometimes you ask for advice and you get a sentence back and sometimes you don’t ask for advice and you get five paragraphs that show up on your phone.”
However, Bowman also has four other teammates with plenty of advice to lend the driver as he prepares for his final seven Cup races of the 2016 season.
“It’s been really helpful to have Dale to lean on,” he said, “and not just Dale, but Jimmie, Chase and Kasey have been really welcoming and really helpful, and Jeff, as well. Dale’s been helpful for sure but the whole organization has been really helpful, too.”